Retiring Arizona Prison Watch...

This site was originally started in July 2009 as an independent endeavor to monitor conditions in Arizona's criminal justice system, as well as offer some critical analysis of the prison industrial complex from a prison abolitionist/anarchist's perspective. It was begun in the aftermath of the death of Marcia Powell, a 48 year old AZ state prisoner who was left in an outdoor cage in the desert sun for over four hours while on a 10-minute suicide watch. That was at ASPC-Perryville, in Goodyear, AZ, in May 2009.

Marcia, a seriously mentally ill woman with a meth habit sentenced to the minimum mandatory 27 months in prison for prostitution was already deemed by society as disposable. She was therefore easily ignored by numerous prison officers as she pleaded for water and relief from the sun for four hours. She was ultimately found collapsed in her own feces, with second degree burns on her body, her organs failing, and her body exceeding the 108 degrees the thermometer would record. 16 officers and staff were disciplined for her death, but no one was ever prosecuted for her homicide. Her story is here.

Marcia's death and this blog compelled me to work for the next 5 1/2 years to document and challenge the prison industrial complex in AZ, most specifically as manifested in the Arizona Department of Corrections. I corresponded with over 1,000 prisoners in that time, as well as many of their loved ones, offering all what resources I could find for fighting the AZ DOC themselves - most regarding their health or matters of personal safety.

I also began to work with the survivors of prison violence, as I often heard from the loved ones of the dead, and learned their stories. During that time I memorialized the Ghosts of Jan Brewer - state prisoners under her regime who were lost to neglect, suicide or violence - across the city's sidewalks in large chalk murals. Some of that art is here.

In November 2014 I left Phoenix abruptly to care for my family. By early 2015 I was no longer keeping up this blog site, save occasional posts about a young prisoner in solitary confinement in Arpaio's jail, Jessie B.

I'm deeply grateful to the prisoners who educated, confided in, and encouraged me throughout the years I did this work. My life has been made all the more rich and meaningful by their engagement.

I've linked to some posts about advocating for state prisoner health and safety to the right, as well as other resources for families and friends. If you are in need of additional assistance fighting the prison industrial complex in Arizona - or if you care to offer some aid to the cause - please contact the Phoenix Anarchist Black Cross at PO Box 7241 / Tempe, AZ 85281.

until all are free -

MARGARET J PLEWS (June 1, 2015)


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Monday, May 31, 2010

The Shadow Prison Industry and Its Government Enablers

Americas Policy Brief: Shadow Prison Industry

Americas Program, Center for International Policy

Tom Barry | January 29, 2010

Outsourcing governmental responsibilities to private contractors is routine and alarming. The Blackwater, Wackenhut, CACI, and Halliburton scandals have highlighted the damage to our foreign affairs resulting from the reliance on private contractors to perform essential foreign policy missions. However, it is at home—in our domestic system of crime and punishment—where government outsourcing and private contracting may be causing the most damage to our system of democratic governance.

Elements of our criminal justice and immigration enforcement systems are spinning dangerously out of public control. Increasingly, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are outsourcing their imprisonment and detention responsibilities to hundreds of contractors and subcontractors—with scant oversight, little transparency, and often tragic consequences. As a result, human rights abuses, squandering of public revenues, and unscrupulous profiteering pervade and pervert the U.S. system of crime and punishment.

A shadow prison industry has spread to all parts of the federal detention and prison system. It is, with a few exceptions, in complete charge of all immigrant imprisonment and detention at both DOJ and DHS. Because the shadow industry has evolved without a plan or strategy, it has become a bizarre, labyrinthine complex of public and private players that is little understood and frighteningly out of control.

The Main Players in the Shadow Prison Industry

The Outsourcers:

Within DOJ, since the mid-1990s, the United States Marshals Service (USMS) and the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) have increasingly contracted private prison firms and local governments to assume responsibility for the custody of federal detainees and prisoners. The largest USMS detention centers and most of its immigrant detention centers are operated by private corporations. Since 1998 the BOP has created 10 large prisons solely for immigrants that are managed by private firms.

The other DOJ player in detainee outsourcing is the Office of Federal Detention Trustee (OFDT), created in 2000 to coordinate and provide oversight to a woefully uncoordinated and unmonitored patchwork of detention centers and jails variously operated by local governments, state governments, private companies, and federal agencies. In part because of the creation of DHS in 2003 and in part due to diminished White House concern about the detention center crisis, OFDT currently functions not as a central oversight and coordinating office for federal detention but rather as small DOJ agency that caters to private contractors seeking detention business with the USMS.

DHS now surpasses DOJ as the leading federal custodian of detainees. The DHS agency Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) subsumed the legacy of the Immigration and Naturalization Services, taking charge of the criminal detention and deportation of immigrants. Currently ICE holds about 33,000 immigrants on any given day in its network of 350 detention centers—some 400,000 annually.

Prison and Detention Center Owners:
Prisons and detention centers with federal prisoners and detainees are owned variously by: 1) federal agencies (of both DOJ and DHS), 2) private prison companies, and 3) local governments that have agreements and contracts with both federal agencies and private prison firms. Generally, when either owned directly by the federal government or owned by local governments that have custodial agreements with the federal government, the actual operators and managers of the facilities are private prison companies.

Three private prison companies—Corrections Corporation of America, GEO Group, and Cornell Companies—are the largest firms holding federal prisoners and detainees, which constitute the source of about 40% of their revenues. Others include Management & Training Corporation, Emerald Corrections, and Community Education Centers. The prison contractors contract either directly with BOP, USMS, and ICE, or indirectly through contracts with local government intermediaries that have custodial agreements with these three federal agencies.

In addition to supplying private prison firms with an increasing stream of federal prisoners and detainees (along with associated per diem payments for "man days"), federal prison outsourcers also have created an adjunct prison services industry of subcontractors. These service subcontractors include private security firms such as Akal Security and Wackenhut Corporation (division of G4S) and correctional healthcare firms such as Physicians Network Association and Correctional Healthcare Management. This network of prison-services companies contracts or subcontracts with all the main actors in the prisoner outsourcing complex: federal agencies, local government intermediaries, and private prison firms.

A federal prisoner can, for example, legally be under BOP custody, but held in a local government prison that is operated by a private prison firm where his or her medical care is provided under a subcontract between the local government and a correctional healthcare firm. As another example of this complicated web of outsourcers, contractors, and subcontractors, a detainee held in one of the several detention centers owned by ICE may actually not be under ICE care but rather under the actual custody of a private security firm.

Local Government Intermediaries:
Federal government outsourcers routinely sign inter-governmental agreements (IGAs) with local and state governments (mostly county governments) that authorize the cooperating government to hold federal detainees or prisoners. In many such cases, the local government then turns around and contracts out the management and operation of the prison or detention center to private prison companies and to prison services subcontractors. USMS or ICE will then typically pay the local government a per-diem stipend for each prisoner. In practice, only a small portion (a couple of dollars) of this per diem goes to the local government, with the balance being transferred to the contractors, subcontractors, and investors who provide the capital to build prisons. Local governments that have signed prison IGAs often subcontract medical care responsibilities to correctional healthcare firms. In practice, the local government intermediaries exercise no oversight of their contractors and subcontractors.

The Main Problems in the Shadow Prison Industry

The federal government has proved increasingly unwilling to take direct responsibility for the human products of its vast criminal justice and immigration enforcement systems. Instead, it has outsourced this thankless, costly task. In doing so, the federal government has: 1) largely avoided its responsibilities for contract management and oversight; 2) ignored its continuing responsibility to monitor conditions inside these federally financed prisons; and 3) created a shadow industry that has, in practice, near-absolute control over more than a half-million prisoners and detainees.

Problems with the shadow prison industry mostly fall under the following issues of concern:

1. Lack of Coordination: Federal government outsourcers rely largely on the same patchwork system of hundreds of contractors and subcontractors. Both ICE and USMS depend exclusively on this contracting network to hold the rapidly expanding number of federal detainees, largely legal and illegal immigrants. Described by congressional studies as a crisis in the late 1990s, the now bifurcated (DHS and DOJ) federal detention system, overwhelmed in both departments by the surge of immigrant prisoners and detainees, has recently become vastly more complicated and problematic.

DHS's new promise to overhaul its own part of the federal detention system ignores the recent history of attempts to reform the system, and illustrates the bureaucratic tension between DOJ and DHS. What is more, DHS has failed to acknowledge its own role—by increasing criminalization of immigration violations and launching new criminal alien programs—in driving the surge of immigrant prisoners in the BOP and USMS facilities.

2. Lack of Effective Oversight: While the prison industry and its supporters argue that the chief motivation for prisoner outsourcing is to improve efficiency and reduce costs, little evidence exists to support this conclusion. Instead, the operative factors driving this booming shadow prison industry include intense prison-industry lobbying, the spread of the government downsizing ideology, and the eagerness of federal justice and immigration agencies to rid themselves of the burden of incarceration.

Rather than providing effective oversight and contract monitoring, federal outsourcers function mostly as expeditors of contracts and per diem payments. In the absence of due diligence at DOJ and DHS, federal prisoner/detainee outsourcing has led to gross abuses of prisoner/detainee rights, a pattern of financial irregularities, and the emergence of a virtually uncharted archipelago of private/public prisons.

3. Lack of Transparency: A near-total absence of committed oversight has allowed the prison industry to flourish in the shadows. Requests for the most basic information about the functioning of these prisons and detention centers routinely lead nowhere.

Private operators like GEO Group bounce back media requests and questions from advocacy organizations to local government prison owners and to the federal outsourcers. In turn, local government entities with IGAs refer inquiries to their contractors and subcontractors, knowing that this will lead to another dead end. For their part, the federal outsourcers refer inquiries to their local government and private partners and demand that requests for the even the most basic information be channeled through FOIA submission, and then belatedly reply with denials or heavily redacted documents, citing trade secrets and proprietary information.

It is a revolving pass-the-buck system in which all the main players deflect questions to the other players. The outsourcing system permits them to evade their own responsibility and to contend that the problems and failings of the prison outsourcing systems belong to their contract partners. The result is a convoluted system of incarceration that is little understood. However, more importantly, there are no effective pathways to seek understanding and clarity about the functioning of the heavily outsourced prison system. It is a system that thrives in the absence of systematic governance—a system that daily consigns thousands of U.S. residents to this shadow world.


Recommended Solutions

Reforms to address the lack of accountability and transparency that is endemic to the prison outsourcing system include:

  • Support H.R. 2450 to extend the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to all federally contracted prisons and detention centers. The details and reports of operations of prisons and detention centers that rely totally on federal contracts should be open to FOIA requests. If these firms find that onerous or intrusive, they can decide not to renew their contracts.
  • Insist that the Office of Inspector General of DOJ undertake an examination of the transparency problem—generalized congressional, public, and media inability to secure nonproprietary information about the management, operations, and conditions of the BOP and USMS prisons and detention centers.
  • Promulgate binding minimum standards for federal detention facilities, and immediately ensure that USMS and ICE detention centers comply with the existing and nonbinding standards.
  • Eliminate the federal tax-exempt provision for municipal bonds financing prison construction that are not reviewed and approved by voters.
  • The DOJ's Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office should study the rationale and the legality of the BOP prisons and USMS detention centers designed solely for immigrants. This segregation of immigrants within the criminal justice system raises serious issues of unequal treatment, including grossly inadequate medical care, routine solitary confinement, difficult access to lawyers and family, and little federal oversight.
  • End the current practice of continuing and renewing prison contracts with irresponsible, negligent, and abusive contractors. Instead, BOP, ICE, and USMS should immediately terminate federal contracts and IGAs with private firms and government entities that intentionally overcharge the government or that grossly or repeatedly fail to meet the conditions of these federal contracts and agreements for prison and detention services.
  • Given new revelations about the continuing pattern of deaths and the absence of proper medical care of immigrant detainees in privately operated ICE detention centers, Congress and the administration should launch investigations to review the number of possibly wrongful deaths of legal and illegal immigrants held in the immigrant-only USMS and BOP correctional facilities.

Such reforms would constitute important first steps in improving accountability and transparency in federally contracted private prisons. However, the underlying, causal problem is the federal government's unwillingness to assume full and direct responsibility for the consequences of its enforcement and sentencing policies. The criminal justice and immigration systems are both badly broken and immensely costly, having resulted in the mass incarceration of nonviolent citizen and noncitizens.

Structural reforms are urgently needed that will substantially reduce the numbers of citizens and immigrants that are relegated to expensive and ineffective lock-ups and that will give more consideration to alternatives to detention, community supervision, and the termination of prison sentences for many nonviolent offenses, particularly drug law and immigration violations.

Our country cannot afford the high financial, social, and moral price of mass incarceration and mass detention. What is more, imprisonment and detention are inherently governmental responsibilities, which should not be outsourced to private firms and local governments that view criminal and immigration law violators primarily as a source of profit and revenue.

Presented by Tom Barry, director of the Transborder Project of the Center for International Policy, at Congressional Briefing, January 25, 2009, on H.R. 2450, a bill sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, among others, to ensure fiscal accountability and reduce fraud and waste by extending FOIA to include all correctional facilities that hold federal prisoners and detainees. Private Corrections Institute (a prison reform advocacy group) was pivotal in organizing the briefing.

For More Information

A Death in Texas: Profits, Poverty, and Immigration Converge
The New Political Economy of Immigration
ICE Detention Reforms Hide Abusive Practices

CCA Diamondback closure devastates Watonga community...

The following commentary and op-ed were forwarded to us by Frank Smith of Private Corrections Working Group. Awesome guy - he's been in this fight for awhile...

I hope Diamondback doesn't re-open; not as a prison, anyway. I hope instead some brilliant, creative young people there share and articulate a better vision and dream - something better than a prison - that the town is willing to invest in for them. There are so many possible futures out there to explore.        



"This is the third CCA prison to close this year, after Appleton, Minnesota and Huerfano county at Walsenburg Colorado.  The prison in California City, CA is expected to have no inmates by September and CCA is losing contracts right and left. Its competitors are in similar dire straits, such as GEO Group with a long-closed prison in Baldwin, Michigan.

But prisoner counts are down all over the country and every corporation is feeling the pinch. Most prisons with over 100 empty beds are probably losing money and they're walking away from contracts to operate, often leaving towns that funded construction of the prisons or substantial infrastructure economically devastated.

I'm figuring that the size of the Watonga payroll was greatly overstated in the editorial and in an article in the Oklahoman as well. I expect the info would have been from a CCA press release. I'm guessing that CCA may have inflated it by 40%. The deficits in revenues are not confined to the city of Watonga, but include the six-figure shortfall to Blaine county as well.

I predicted this decline in population over two years ago, but officials in towns such as Pahrump, Nevada, ignored my warnings and rushed to accommodate CCA where they're building an unfillable prison.

Sometimes I think these corporations must have hired Dr. Kevorkian as their CEO."

Frank Smith
--------------------------from the Tulsa World 5/29/2010----------------------

Watonga's woes: A private prison closes up shop

By Tulsa World's Editorial Writers

The closing of the 12-year-old Diamondback Correctional Facility in Watonga is a cautionary tale about what can happen when a community puts too many eggs in one basket, when a state becomes the penal colony to the nation and when an overabundance of private prisons is encouraged.

Diamondback closed on Thursday, leaving 300 employees jobless unless they can find work at another facility. The city is losing the benefits of an $11 million prison payroll, the annual sale of $400,000 of water and sewer services to the facility, and sales tax revenues from purchases made by 2,000 inmates.

The inmates are gone, most shipped back to Arizona, which no longer will house inmates in out-of-state facilities.

Watonga has a population of 5,600 and a city budget of $2.4 million. The loss is devastating, even if it's temporary. Diamondback's owner, Correction Corp of America, claims that it hopes to reopen the facility. But will that happen? Every state has budget woes and is cutting back. Housing inmates in private prisons might be too pricey an option.

The private prison proliferation here began under Gov. Frank Keating in the 1990s. It was a "Field of Dreams" philosophy: Build it and they will come. And, inmates did, shipped by the thousands to new private prisons. Oklahoma itself houses some of its own inmates in private prisons and there's been an unrelenting push by some legislators to use private prisons even more rather than reforming this state's sentencing system.

Private prisons are a double-edged sword. They put people to work in small towns but they don't always last forever. And inmates seldom receive the programming they need to break addictions or the retraining for new jobs on the outside. Like it or not, for-profit prisons are more about warehousing and less about rehabilitation. And states pay a pretty penny for housing their overflow inmates in private facilities.

We hope for Watonga's sake that Diamondback reopens. In the meantime, this is a lose-lose situation all the way around.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

What CCA Gets from SB 1070, et al.

These are the folks who have helped dupe this whole state into hysteria about us being invaded by hordes of criminal aliens...and ALEC helped, no doubt - see how compounding the criminal justice systems' mission and duty with the profit motive can actually harm a community, or a state, or a country - much less a people.

This will probably tell you a lot about the corporate devils wining and dining your politicians and "economic leaders" into a deal on a new detention center (or prison) to enhance your community...bringing with them all their lobbyists to make sure that enough people remain criminalized to justify keeping those detention centers open - don't think that if they need bodies to fill those cell bunks they won't criminalize your kids next...

Private Prison Firm Exploiting Broken Immigration System

Progressive States

As a Service and Employees International Union (SEIU) campaign highlights, one key player profiting off the nation's broken immigration system is the private prison firm, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).  CCA operates and profits significantly from private prisons across the country, many of which house immigrants in detention, a kind of legal limbo in which immigrants are imprisoned while their cases are being considered, or who are in the process of being deported.

Roughly 40 percent of CCA's profits stem from operating jails that house immigrants.  In fact, the corporation earned over $1.7 billion in revenue in 2009 alone -- much of it from contracts with the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the US Marshals Office, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons to cope with the influx of nonviolent immigrants in the nation's prison system.  CCA has also been a long-time funder of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and member of its Private Sector Executive Committee, which advocates on behalf of CCA to push prison privatization as a model for states.

While most believe prisons are operated by state or federal governments, they are increasingly privatized.  As the number of immigration prosecutions continue to skyrocket and comprehensive immigration reform languishes in Washington, DC, this makes the business of operating prisons all the more lucrative for private firms.  According to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), immigration prosecutions reached record levels in federal fiscal year 2009.  The Department of Homeland Security initiated 67,994 immigration prosecutions that year alone, a 459 percent increase from 2000 and a 973 percent increase from 1990.

Filling Up Prisons with Non-Violent Immigrants:  In addition, federal immigration authorities are increasingly targeting nonviolent immigrants, whose only offense is attempting to unlawfully cross the border, via efforts such as Operation Streamline, which focuses on apprehending nonviolent border-crossers.  According to a May 2010 study by the Warren Institute at the University of California, Berkeley Law School, projects such as Operation Streamline that focus on immigrants who haven't committed any crime in the US divert precious federal resources from apprehending drug cartels and human traffickers that frequently operate with impunity along stretches of the US-Mexico border and are responsible for much of the violence in the region.  These record numbers of nonviolent immigrants are, in turn, filling jails and immigration detention centers to capacity: contributing to growing costs to states and higher profits for private prison companies like CCA.

The Failures of Prison Privatization:  Both federal and state governments have utilized private firms to operate prisons, despite evidence of systematic failures. Privatization only exacerbates the challenges faced by states, communities, and families dealing with the broken immigration system.  For example, the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy finds that there is no compelling evidence that prison privatization has led to savings, while the Private Corrections Institute analyzes several issues with privatization, which include “major riots, sex abuse scandals… improper billing by private prison companies… employment law violations, higher employer turnover rates, increased levels of prisoner-on-prisoner and prisoner-on-staff violence, lack of transparency and public accountability, and higher recidivism rates for inmates released from privately-operated prisons.”

When privatization involves prisons and detention centers, the profiteering comes at the expense of constitutional safeguards, democratic oversight, and public trust.  In this case, it also undermines legislative efforts to promote progressive immigration reform.  Lawmakers should take action to prevent such debacles from occurring by either halting failed privatization schemes. For example, Indiana Rep. Gail Riecken's introduced a bill to end privatization of social services in her state.  Legislators can also consider requiring augmented transparency of state contracting, much like initiatives in Alabama,  Hawaii, and Vermont.

Immigration Policy Center - US Border Enforcement Prioritizes Non-Violent Migrants Over Dangerous Criminals
Immigration Policy Center - New Data on Federal Court Prosecutions Reveal Non-Violent Immigration Prosecutions Up
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse - Immigration Prosecutions at Record Levels in FY 2009
Immigration Policy Center -  Throwing Good Money After Bad: Immigration Enforcement Without Immigration Reform Doesn't Work
University of California, Berkeley Law School Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity - Assembly-Line Justice: A Review of Operation Streamline
Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy – Are Florida’s Private Prisons Keeping Their Promise
Private Corrections Institute – Quick Facts About Prison Privatization
Private Corrections Institute – Report on Prison Privatization Plagued with Conflicts of Interest, Faulty Data, Political Connections
Progressive States Network - Privatization During an Economic Downturn: Still Inefficient and Problematic
OneAmerica - Voices from Detention: A Report on Human Rights Violations at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma Washington
AFSCME - Prison Privatization Resources

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Contact info: AZ Adobe Mountain School

the only real news from another story by fox news:
Adobe Mountain School
2800 W. Pinnacle Peak Road
Phoenix, Arizona 85085

school's hotline: 623-869-9050 with concerns if you have a family member there.

Youth Dies at State Adobe Mountain juvenile facility.

ADDENDUM: Some troubling comments about Adobe Mountain School were left at the end of this Fox News article about the young boy's death...


If there are folks out there who have information to share about their kids' experiences in the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections, now would be a good time to share, and I think this is a good place to share it. Let other families know they aren't alone, let your kids know they've got someone watching their back out here, and let the state know you expect every single child home safe someday.

If this is a place you can feel safe doing that- anonymously or otherwise let me know (Peggy: ). In the meantime, as devastating as this news is, I have no information other than this. Try Middle Ground mid-day; I'm sure that if they don't demand an investigation by then they'll know who will.


Teenager found dead at Phoenix juvenile facility

May. 25, 2010 10:37 AM
Associated Press

Police are investigating a teen's death at the Adobe Mountain juvenile correctional facility.

Police and fire crews responded to the north Phoenix school near Interstate 17 and Pinnacle Peak Road Tuesday morning for a report of a male teenager who was unresponsive.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lima, Peru: Lori is Free!

That post below was shared by my friend from Nevada Prison Watch. She's "covering my back" since I'm having a rough time this week. I get the sentiment there, but folks shouldn't expect to send me all their pissed off letters so I can post them verbatim, now. This will only happen on occasion.

Anyway, I am posting the following email verbatim - it's joyful, long-awaited news on Lori Berenson. Blessings to her and her family tonight...

dateTue, May 25, 2010 at 4:35 PM

subject: LORI IS FREE

Lori and Salvador are Granted Parole!

Dear Friends and Supporters of Lori,

On May 25, 2010 a Peruvian judge, after carefully studying Lori's application for what in Peru is termed "conditional liberty" (parole), determined that Lori has earned her freedom. Lori and her son Salvador will be leaving prison in a few days and moving to an apartment in Lima.

Parole requires individuals to live within the city in which they were incarcerated (Lima, in Lori's case) - we do not know if there are exceptions for foreigners or whether Lori will be permitted to travel to the US while on parole. Parole in Peru is based on good behavior, work and study. In September 2009 Lori officially filed her application under a Peruvian law which established eligibility after serving 75% of her 20-sentence, less time off for work and study.

Lori appeared before the judge in court on Monday, May 17th, for a hearing, defended by her husband, Anibal Apari Sanchez, a Lima lawyer and candidate for Mayor of Villa El Salvador, a suburb of Lima with over a half million inhabitants. Lori will be a single mom - Anibal and Lori are legally separated but remain friends and both share concerns for Salvador's proper upbringing.

Salvador, now an active one-year old boy, will certainly enjoy the opportunity to run around outside the confines of the prison. He is learning both English and Spanish but babbles continuously in "unknown tongue." He is a very happy child and loves to be with people.

We want to express our gratitude to all of you for your expressions of love and support all these years. You have truly sustained us through some very dark hours and the dawn of a new sunny day has arrived.

With appreciation, always.

Rhoda and Mark B.


English Website:

Spanish Website:

Monday, May 24, 2010

Latinos, Blacks join fight for civil rights in Arizona

This is from the SF Bay View.

Latinos, Blacks join fight for civil rights in Arizona
May 23, 2010 

by Valeria Fernández, New America Media News Report

Phoenix, Ariz. – A united front of Black and Latino Arizonans mobilized against a state law that they see as a threat to their civil rights on Sunday, April 25, at the First Institutional Baptist Church in downtown Phoenix. Gov. Jan Brewer signed SB 1070 into law on Friday, making Arizona the first state in the nation to make it a crime for a person to be undocumented.

More than 3,000 people demonstrated outside the state capitol and hundreds gathered at the church to protest the law. Human rights activists, religious leaders and congressmen called for peaceful mobilizations, boycotts and, if necessary, civil disobedience to stop the legislation they believe would lead to racial profiling, unsafe communities and economic turmoil.

Several voices from the African-American community and other ethnic minorities joined the fight, sending a message of unity at a time when the state faces a divisive immigration debate.

“We here in Arizona are witnessing the historic and necessary 21st century awakening of the spirit of the civil rights movement,” said Rev. Warren Stewart, to an audience of 300 people at the First Institutional Baptist Church. Other speakers included Mayor Phil Gordon and Congressman Luis Gutiérrez, D-Ill.

“Where do we go from here – chaos or community?” Stewart asked, citing the words of Martin Luther King Jr. “I offer this to be our response: non-violent direct action.”

Stewart presented a battle plan to the audience that mirrored the strategy the Black community in Phoenix used successfully in 1989 to force an unwilling legislature to create a legal holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This included an economic boycott.
And history might repeat itself.
One of the leading voices for a boycott is Congressman Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz.
“There have to be consequences to this,” Grijalva told New America Media. He is calling for out-of-state organizations to refrain from holding conventions and events in Arizona. “With her signature, Gov. Brewer effectively sunk this state into an economic downturn that one convention not coming to Phoenix is miniscule.”
But before considering a boycott, Congressmen Ed Pastor, D-Ariz., and Luis Gutiérrez, D- Ill., say they want to see direct action from the Obama administration to block enforcement of the new law that would take effect in August.

“We need to stop this type of legislation from going to other states,” Pastor told New America Media.
The congressman said President Obama can ask U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to seek a temporary injunction of the Arizona law through the courts. He is also calling on Obama to suspend the use of a national program known as 287(g) that allows local police to enforce federal immigration law and has led to lawsuits related to racial profiling.

Congressman Gutiérrez said he is hopeful that Obama will take action to stop the enforcement of SB 1070 given the president’s recent statements.

On Friday, Obama said federal inaction in passing immigration reform had led to “irresponsibility by others,” a reference to the Arizona law.
Only two days after passage of Arizona’s racist SB 1070, Blacks and Latinos joined forces to protest. – Photo: Jose Muñoz
Gutiérrez called for immigration reform during a passionate speech in front of the Arizona Capitol, but stressed that even if reform does not pass, that is no excuse not to stop the Arizona legislation in its tracks. He called on the administration to issue a statement to affirm that “the police do not have an inherent right to carry out immigration policy,” and that that is the responsibility of the federal government. But, he said, agreements between local police and immigration authorities across the country may have paved the way for the Arizona law.
“Every time the federal government said that you can carry out 287(g) and sanctioned it, you gave Arizona an excuse to do 1070,” he said in a speech Sunday at the Arizona Capitol.
Sunday’s protest was the culmination of a week of actions in Phoenix, including an act of civil disobedience on Tuesday by nine students who chained themselves to the doors of the state capitol. People gathered to the beat of ranchera music in a rally that had a cheerful tone to it, despite the nature of the protest. T-shirts with the message “Legalize Arizona” were distributed in the crowd, which was made up mostly of young people and families with children.

The peaceful rally contrasted with the presence of hundreds of officers from the Department of Public Safety (DPS) who surrounded the premises of the Capitol grounds. Another rally is expected on May 1, when communities across the country will call for immigration reform.

“This had the unintended result of bringing people together who are vulnerable and live this vulnerability day in an day out. The African-American community, the Native American community, the gay American community,” said Roberto Reveles, former president of Somos America, a human rights coalition in the state.
Reveles, who participated in the 1960s civil rights movement, believes the passage of the controversial law will lead to more civic involvement and voter registration.
“We feel this is our fight also,” said Robert Tindall, director of Equal Means Equal, a campaign to bring awareness to gay rights issues. “It’s about equal rights and civil rights.” Tyndall said his group used social networking sites like Twitter to inform about 6,000 people about the rally on Sunday.
While communities are planning actions on the ground, others are looking to challenge the new law in the courts. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Mexican American Legal and Educational Fund (MALDEF) are looking into an immediate legal challenge. Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon said the city also will consider a lawsuit.
But there is a question of timing. One of the most immediate challenges to stop the law from taking effect is based on the argument that the federal authority is supreme when it comes to enforcing immigration law and states can’t regulate that area.

Another challenge, which would have to take place after the law has gone into effect, could investigate whether the law has resulted in the use of racial profiling.

Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, the author of the legislation, argues that his bill is not any different from what the federal government already does.

But legal observers say the fact that federal law supersedes state law could be the crux of the case against SB 1070.

“The law is very likely to be overturned because it is preempted by federal law,” said Muzaffar Chishti, a lawyer who monitors state and local immigration laws for the non-partisan Migration Policy Institute (MPI). “Congress has reserved enforcement of immigration law for the federal government, with very few explicit areas for a role for states or localities. This is not one of them.”

The Great State of California is being Scammed by Private Prisons and Tea Partiers

How can California still really wonder why they're in such deep debt when the only sources of information they listen to come from are places like the Reason Foundation and the "Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association?" They don't want to "save" California money - they want to take California's money and usurp the people's political's pretty transparent once you read the report below.

PRESS RELEASE / STATEMENT                                                                REVISED
Report on Prison Privatization Plagued with Conflicts of Interest, Faulty Data, Political Connections

For Immediate Release

Sacramento, CA – The Private Corrections Institute, a non-profit citizen watchdog group that opposes prison privatization, issued the following statement today sharply criticizing a joint report by the Reason Foundation, a Los Angeles-based libertarian think-tank that promotes the privatization of government services, and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA). The HJTA advocates for the rights of California taxpayers and is also supportive of the “Tea Party” movement.

The Reason-HJTA report was released on the heels of Governor Schwarzenegger’s comments in favor of prison privatization in his State of the State address last January. California already contracts with for-profit private prison companies to house up to 10,468 inmates in out-of-state facilities, and according to the governor’s recent May Revise the state is likely to increase its reliance on private prison contracts.

The Reason Foundation has long been a proponent of prison privatization and has received funding from private prison companies – although that apparent conflict of interest is not mentioned in the Reason-HJTA report. Further, the report provides political cover for gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, who has expressed support  for prison privatization. The HJTA has endorsed Whitman and produced commercials supporting her candidacy. Corrections Corp. of America (CCA), the nation’s largest private prison company, has donated $5,000 to Whitman’s campaign. 

California represents an enormous market for private prison companies, which have been spending political capital for the state’s business. In 2009, CCA donated $15,000 to the CA Republican Party, $7,500 to the CA Democratic Party, and $100,000 to Gov. Schwarzenegger's Budget Reform Now coalition. In 2008, CCA gave $45,000 to the CA Republican Party and $20,000 to the CA Democratic party. The nation's second-largest private prison firm, GEO Group, gave $25,000 to the CA Republican Party in 2008.*

The Reason-HJTA report advocates sending 25,000 California inmates to out-of-state for-profit prisons, claiming that would save the state up to $1.8 billion over a five-year period. The report purports to offer a solution to California’s prison overcrowding crisis, which has led a panel of federal judges to order a major reduction in the state’s prison population following almost a decade of litigation.

The Reason-HJTA study alleges that California spends $162 per prisoner per diem – the highest in the nation – based on data from the American Correctional Association (ACA). The report fails to mention that the ACA – a private, self-regulated organization composed of former and current corrections officials – receives revenue from private prison companies, which also sponsor the ACA’s biannual conferences. 

The $162 per diem rate cited in the report, which was obtained by simply dividing the state’s corrections budget by its prison population, grossly misrepresents the actual  cost of incarceration. For example, the inflated per diem rate in the Reason-HJTA report inaccurately includes parole supervision and administrative costs, which are part of the prison system’s budget; medical and mental health care expenses, which are under the control of the federally-appointed receiver; and central office administrative overhead. The report’s exaggerated per diem rate also apparently includes prison design and construction expenses, which are not factored into private prison cost analyses.

The report fails to consider that privately-run prisons do not house maximum-security California prisoners, death row prisoners, female prisoners, juveniles or prisoners with serious mental health or medical conditions, all of whom are more expensive to incar-cerate. In the latter regard, medical costs for California inmates held in private prisons are capped at $2,500 per prisoner; the state must pay medical expenses above that amount, plus all treatment costs for inmates who are HIV-positive.
According to Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the Private Corrections Institute, “Contrasting the inaccurate per diem rate in the [Reason-HJTA] report with the cost of housing inmates in out-of-state private prisons cannot even be considered an apples- to-oranges comparison. It’s more like an apples-to-fish comparison.”

In a 2007 letter to state Senator Gloria Romero, the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) reported that “the state now budgets on average about $56 per inmate   per day for each additional prison inmate – often referred to as overcrowding costs per inmate. By comparison, the contracted rate for ... new out of state prison beds is higher, about $63 per inmate per day.” The LAO also noted that the per diem rate for prisoners in out-of-state private prisons did not include transportation costs, the cost of oversight by state officials, or medical expenses above the $2,500 cap. 

The Reason-HJTA report acknowledges that California’s “recent contracts to house state inmates in out-of-state [CCA] facilities spell out costs that vary from $63-72 per bed per day ....” Thus it is evidently more expensive to house inmates in private prisons, based on the LAO’s average in-state per diem rate of $56, despite the Reason-HJTA report’s claims that prison privatization can result in cost savings of up to 28%. 

Such alleged savings cited in the report are based in part on research by discredited former University of Florida professor Charles Thomas. Thomas operated a University project that studied the private prison industry and produced research promoting the benefits of privatization. It was subsequently discovered that Thomas owned stock in the private prison companies he was studying, sat on the board of Prison Realty Trust, a spin-off of Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), and had been paid $3 million  by Prison Realty / CCA. Thomas retired from his University position after these conflicts became known and was fined $20,000 by the Florida Commission on Ethics. The report fails to mention this tainted history underlying Thomas’ research.

Further, the Reason-HJTA report incestuously cites Reason’s own in-house research   in support of its position that private prisons are less costly than those operated by the government, and does not address other studies that have found deficiencies in prison privatization in terms of both cost savings and quality of service. The report also relies

on a Vanderbilt University study funded by both CCA and the Association of Private Correctional and Treatment Organizations – an industry group that exists to advance the interests of companies that profit from corrections-related services. The funding source of the Vanderbilt study is not stated in the report.

Additionally, the Reason-HJTA report cites research from Avondale Partners, Inc., an investment banking firm that has issued a favorable market rating for CCA. Avondale hosted a private prison conference in New York City on May 19, 2010 that included a presentation by CCA CEO Damon Hininger. Other presenters included the Reason Foundation, the CEO of the GEO Group, and California private prison lobbyist Mark Nobili. These connections between Avondale and the private prison industry are not mentioned in the report.

“The joint Reason-HJTA report is based on sources that are so plagued with conflicts   of interest that the results would be laughable if they weren’t masquerading as credible research,” stated Private Corrections Institute president Alex Friedmann. “This is far beyond the fox guarding the henhouse. This is the fox outsourcing security for the hen house to a pack of wolves.” Friedmann, a former prisoner, served time in a CCA prison in the 1990s; he was released in 1999 and is now an authority on private prisons.

The report also fails to mention the significant problems that other states have had with prison privatization, including major riots, sex abuse scandals, escapes, improper billing by private prison companies, and employment law violations. The Reason-HJTA report glosses over other deleterious aspects of prison privatization, such as higher employee turnover rates, increased levels of prisoner-on-prisoner and prisoner-on-staff violence, lack of transparency and public accountability, and higher recidivism rates for inmates released from privately-operated prisons.

For example, the report claims that rates of violence are lower at private prisons than   at state facilities, but fails to disclose that the research supporting that statement, from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, only addresses a narrow category of “sexual violence”  – not overall institutional violence. Leonard C. Gilroy, director of government reform for the Reason Foundation and co-author of the Reason-HJTA report, acknowledged that deficiency on May 21 and stated the report would be updated accordingly.

Rather than addressing the shortcomings of private prisons, the Reason Foundation and HJTA recommend that California engage in wholesale privatization – including con-tracting out existing state prisons built with taxpayer funds; outsourcing food services, transportation, medical and mental health care, and education and treatment programs; and privatizing probation and parole services. While this would be a windfall for private prison firms, including those that have given money to the Reason Foundation, whether it would benefit taxpayers financially or in terms of public safety is less certain.

Although the Reason-HJTA report raises serious issues, such as high recidivism rates among California prisoners and the state’s prison overcrowding crisis, according to the Private Corrections Institute that does not justify the wholesale transfer of inmates to for-profit prison companies as proposed by the Reason Foundation and HJTA.


The Private Corrections Institute (PCI),, is a non-profit citizen watch-dog group that educates the public about the significant dangers and pitfalls associated with the privatization of correctional services. PCI maintains an online collection of news reports and other resources related to the private prison industry, and holds the position that for-profit prisons have no place in a free and democratic society.

For further information, please contact:

Ken Kopczynski, Executive Director                    Alex Friedmann, President
Private Corrections Institute                                   Private Corrections Institute
1114 Brandt Drive                                                    5331 Mt. View Road #130
Tallahassee, FL 32308                                           Antioch, TN  37013
(850) 980-0887                                                         (802) 257-1342 / (615) 495-6568                                        

* According to the Institute for Money in State Politics,

The Long Road Ahead: The National Criminal Justice Commission.

While I fear this means that the system will be "fixed", as opposed to being scratched completely and replaced with neighborhood-based models of community problem-solving and restorative justice, I do hope the process exposes the serious flaws in how we implement "justice" via "law and order" in this nation.

Besides, we've been hearing about this commission in the wings so long, that it's good to finally have a place to get things out on the table - like the ethics of privatizing prisons, racial disparities in arrests and sentencing, the horrendous health care prisoners receive, the damage done by the PRLA to the overall cause of prisoner rights and protections in this country, and the outrage that innocent people continue to languish for years in prison - as their families suffer their absence - while smug or lazy DA's sit on the very evidence that could and should set them free immediately. Any county attorney (or underling) who fails to act on new evidence in such a case is in grievous violation of their own ethical standards, and perhaps the law.Perhaps they'll even address how the feds can deal with rogue sheriffs and prosecutors abusing their power a little more promptly than they have of late (it's been over a year, now, dear DOJ. What's the hold up?)

That's just to name a few of the things on my list tonight...

Dare I say "at least" Rick Romley has taken back the County Attorney's office from Thomas? He had the guts to admit he'd been wrong himself when it was Ray Krone, one of his own convictions, who needed to be exonerated. Will he show the same courage and sense of urgency to helping to free Courtney Bisbee?

U.S.: Overflowing Prisons Spur Call for Reform Commission
Inter Press Service
William Fisher

NEW YORK, May 16 (IPS) - Despite the lacklustre performance of  so-called "blue ribbon commissions" in the United States over the years, sponsors of the latest proposal - the National
Criminal Justice Commission - are optimistic that it will become a reality and that its recommendations will be taken seriously by the president, Congress and the U.S. public.

The reason, says its sponsor, Senator Jim Webb, a Democrat from  Virginia, is that "America's criminal justice system has deteriorated to the point that it is a national disgrace".

 He added, "We are wasting billions of dollars and diminishing  millions of lives. We need to fix the system. Doing so will require a major nationwide recalculation of who goes to prison and for how long and of how we address the long-term consequences of incarceration."

 Given the chequered history of blue ribbon commissions in the  nation's capital, a spokesman for Sen. Webb told IPS that "with nearly 40 Democratic and Republican cosponsors, there is a strong
likelihood of success".

 In the past, Congressionally-appointed commissions are  typically set up, staffed, complete their investigative and analytical work, make recommendations that are received by a senior official, a press release is issued, and then the commission's report is consigned to a shelf where it gathers dust.

 Throughout U.S. history, there have been relatively few bodies  that have gained the notoriety, media coverage, and attention from Congress and the president as the 9/11 Commission,
established in the wake of the terrorist attacks if Sep. 11, 2001.

 Over time, most of its recommendations were implemented. One  reason was the severity of the issue - almost 3,000 deaths. Another was ongoing, well-organised, effective support from the
families of the 9/11 victims.

 A prison commission has none of those attributes - and  prisoners can't vote. So the political inventive appears minimal.

 But the issue is not. Statistics compiled by the Congressional  Research Service begin to tell the story.

 The United States has the highest incarceration rate on the  planet - five times the world's average. A total of 2,380,000 people are now in prison. The U.S. has five percent of the world's population, but 25 percent of the world's prison population.

 Minorities make up a disproportionately large share of inmates.  Black males have a 32 percent chance of serving time in prison at some point in their lives; Hispanic males have a 17 percent
chance; white males have a six percent chance.

 African American men and boys are grossly over-represented at  every stage of the judicial process. Although African Americans make up just over 12 percent of the national population, 42
percent of those currently on death row are African American.

 African American women have the highest rate of incarceration among women in the U.S. - four times higher than that of white women.

 Initial contacts with police officers are often driven by  racial profiling and other racially tainted practices, and the disparities exist through the sentencing phase: African Americans routinely receive more jail time and harsher punishments.

 Cocaine laws in particular disproportionately affect African  Americans, who account for 25 percent of total crack cocaine users, yet who comprised 81 percent of those convicted of federal
crack cocaine offences in 2007.

 Drug offenders in prisons and jails have increased 1200 percent  since 1980. Nearly a half million persons are in federal or state prison or local jail for a drug offence, compared to an estimated 41,100 in 1980. A significant percentage of these offenders have no history of violence or high-level drug selling activity.

 As a result, spending on corrections rose 127 percent at the  state level while higher education expenditures rose just 21 percent.

 Prisons and jails have also become holding facilities for the  mentally ill. There are an estimated 350,000 men and women prisoners with serious mental disorders - four times the number in mental health hospitals.
 It is against this background that Sen. Webb introduced the  National Criminal Justice Act, authorising the Commission. There has been no in-depth or comprehensive study of the entire
criminal justice system since The President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration and Justice, impaneled in 1965.

 A companion to the Webb bill has been introduced in the House  of Representatives with bipartisan sponsorship. The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved the proposal with strong
bipartisan support. The legislation is now awaiting action by the full Senate and is pending in the House.

 The Commission would carry out a comprehensive review of the criminal justice system, and make reform recommendations to improve public safety, cost-effectiveness, overall prison administration, and fairness in the implementation of the criminal justice system.

 It "would also be charged with looking at how we have arrived  at this convoluted mess, how many of our problems are interrelated and often feed off of one another, and how we can correct a system that is badly in need of a new course," Sen. Webb said.

 Other powerful actors agree. Among them is Hilary O. Shelton,  director of the Washington Bureau of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP).

 In a telephone interview, Shelton told IPS, "At every stage of  the criminal justice process serious problems undermine basic tenets of fairness and equity, as well as the public's expectations for safety."

 "Perhaps the most glaring problem inherent in today's system is  the number of racial and ethnic minorities who are disproportionately treated more harshly and more often by our nation's criminal justice system," he noted. "From initial contact to sentencing to the challenges facing those reentering the community after incarceration, racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented in the number of people stopped, arrested, tried, convicted and incarcerated."

 The Commission would include members appointed by the president  and by federal and state politicians, as well as private sector specialists in law enforcement, criminal justice, national
security, prison administration, prisoner reentry, public health, including drug addiction and mental health, victims' rights, and social services.

 The bill has also been endorsed by the International  Association of Chiefs of Police, the largest organisation of police executives.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Whose voice counts more than the people's?

CCA's, of course. They always do. That's the danger of private prisons: the industry is invested in perpetuating "crime", not protecting communities. They feed off of desperate people whose voices are never heard by those in power.

So, it's fitting that this from Stephen Lemon's blog this week. The only thing I find surprising about this is that it involves so little money - I think there's a whole hell of a lot of more CCA money than this floating around the capitol these days - and into chambers of commerce and city halls of all those little towns they keep pushing their prisons in...and of course those folks are invested in SB 1070. 

As should every American citizen in this state, now. If they aren't locking up immigrants, they're going to have to start locking up the rest of us - or those fine little communities will go under, and we can't let that happen. Then, of course, there are also all the folks (council members, senators, etc.) who have bought CCA's stock expecting more immigrant detention to drive it up. They place a value on the head of every brown body they can collect - and do whatever they can to keep them as long as the feds will pay them to do so - just like Sheriff Joe. That's what all these laws and the hysteria are about - not crime or public safety, just turning a buck on these folks backs. It's okay for them to be here as long as we can profit from their misery - and that of their children.


Jan Brewer's CCA Money and Her Possible Conflict of Interest Over SB 1070

Feathered Bastard

Several months before signing SB 1070, Governor Jan Brewer accepted hundreds of dollars in "seed money" for her clean elections campaign from corporate executives and others with a possible stake in Arizona's "papers please" legislation becoming law.

In all, seven executives with the Tennessee-based private prisons giant Corrections Corporation of America contributed $980 for the governor's start-up fund with Arizona's clean elections system. A warden for one of CCA's Arizona prisons gave $100. A CCA shareholder gave $140.

Lobbyists listed with the state of Arizona as having CCA as a client gave another $560, for a total of $1,780. In addition, CCA has contributed a whopping $10,000 to the campaign for Prop 100, the one cent sales tax heavily promoted by Brewer, which is up for approval by voters today. The success of Prop 100 is considered by many to be the linchpin for a Brewer victory in November.

How does CCA stand to gain from SB 1070? CCA, which houses 75,000 offenders and detainees in more than 60 facilities nationwide, operates six prisons in Arizona, three of which list U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as a client: Florence, Eloy, and the Central Arizona Detention Center.

If SB 1070 is not stopped by a federal court injunction before it goes into effect late July, as a recently filed ACLU lawsuit aims to accomplish, all Arizona law enforcement will be required to check the immigration status of those they have "reasonable suspicion" of being in the country illegally. This, during any lawful stop, detention, or arrest.
So the law could potentially mean a boon in warm bodies for CCA prisons, as those aliens turned over to ICE might find themselves in CCA facilities, even if for a short stay.
"The more folks that get pulled over and detained, the more money CCA makes," said Monica Sandschafer, executive director of the Phoenix immigrant rights group LUCHA, which stands for Living United for Change in Arizona. "It's a pretty disturbing connection between Brewer and this company."
But Brewer campaign flack Doug Cole scoffed at the suggestion that there was anything nefarious about the connection between Brewer and CCA, referring to CCA as a "good corporate citizen" and denying that CCA's contributions to Brewer in any way affected her decision to sign the controversial law...
 (finish the Feathered Bastard's blog on this here, then peruse the rest of the PHX New Times..)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

O'odham Solidarity Across Borders: Resisting militarization

Activists Lockdown & Occupy US Border Patrol Headquarters Demanding End to Border Militarization, Protesters Cited and Released

Saturday, May 22, 2010 

High resolution pictures and B-roll available at:

 Tucson, AZ – At approximately 1:00PM Friday, May 21, 2010 more than a dozen people occupied the Tucson Headquarters of the US Border Patrol to draw attention to impacts of border militarization in Indigenous Communities. Six people, including Alex Soto a member of the Tohono O'odham Nation and a volunteer with the group O’odham Solidarity Across Borders, locked themselves together for up to 3 and 1/2 hours. “Indigenous voices have been ignored. In our action today we say NO MORE!” Said Soto.

Banners were hung, including one placed over the reception window that read, “Stop Militarization of Indigenous Lands Now”, traditional songs were sung and the group chanted, “Border militarization destroys Indigenous communities!” and “No raids, no deportations! No SB1070, no racist laws!” Approximately 30 Border Patrol agents flooded the lobby of the headquarters and scrambled to react. Roads to the headquarters and adjacent air force base were shut down. Tucson City Police were eventually called and began preparing an extraction of the peaceful resisters.

A diverse crowd of up to 70 people quickly gathered outside the Border Patrol headquarters to support those locked down inside. Ofelia Rivas of O’odham Voices Against The Wall, an elder in support of the action stated, “It was a historical and powerful moment for people of all color to unite with O’odham to stand in solidarity for human rights and to see the next generation take a stand”.

At approximately 4 o’clock the peaceful resisters negotiated the conditions of their release on their terms. Their requests to consult with Tohono O’odham elders to negotiate terms of release were denied by Tucson Police. The protesters decided to unlock and were cited for two misdemeanors each of trespassing and disorderly conduct. The resisters were released just outside the premises to join supporters where they gathered in traditional prayer and rallied against border militarization for another hour. Community members including members of the Pasqual Yaqui, Tohono O'odham, and Dine' Nations reacted emotionally when two Wackenhut Corp. buses left the Border Patrol compound filled with undocumented people. The detainees responded with returning the symbol of resistance - a raised fist.

“This is just one action of many that makes visible the invisible crimes against humanity that occur every day on the colonial border,” stated one of the peaceful resisters. “We commit to honoring the prayers and call for support of the people most impacted by border militarization, the Indigenous Peoples who’s lands we are on and migrants who seek a better life for their families. We cannot not allow government agencies, border patrol, ICE or reformist agendas to further their suffering. We will continue our actions of peaceful resistance for human dignity and respect for all peoples.”

The action also denounced SB1070 and HB2281 as racist laws that are a part of an ongoing system of genocidal policies against Indigenous Peoples and migrant communities.

For previous Press Statement, please see attachment.

Note to editors, high resolution photos attached; Photo credits: O'odham Solidarity Across Borders Collective

Media Contacts:
Alex Soto (602) 881-6027
Leilani Clark (520) 982-5687

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

DREAM Activists Sit-in, Arrested at McCain's Tucson Office.

This email floored me when I got it last night. These kids have more courage than most American citizens. They've put everything on the line for the DREAM Act. The least the rest f us can do is can McCain and tell him we want these kids free and legal. How can anyone think they'd be anything but a blessing to our nation? They already are.

Here are McCain's Senate office numbers:

  • Phoenix Office: (602) 952-2410

  • Prescott Office: (928) 445-0833

  • Tempe Office: (480) 897-6289

  • Tucson Office: (520) 670-6334

  • Washington Office: (202) 224-2235

    And here are his campaign office numbers. 

     Phoenix Office: 602-604-2010                      Tucson Office: 520-327-2773

    Boy is his campaign site looking scary...he's really turned anti-immigrant - and didn't mention a thing in his news releases about having those Dream Activists arrested, of course. I don't see how he can keep all his promises to the Latino community when he's so busy sucking up to the far right...

    Made my call, and registered my voice to free those youth and push the DREAM act through. It'll only take you two or three minutes to do the same - just pick an office and dial.

---------------------------The Dream is Coming--------------------------

Media Contacts: Juan (407) 602-8675,
Flavia de la Fuente (949) 910-6362
DETAINED in Arizona: Four Student Immigrant Leaders
Peacefully Resist Current Immigration Law, Urge Passage of DREAM Act

As of 6:00 PM PST Monday May 17, Mohammad, Yahaira, Lizbeth and Raul, an Arizona Resident, have been arrested and detained after their day long sit-in at Senator John McCains Office in Tucson, AZ. Tania, who was not detained, has been designated as spokesperson and will be relating the experiences/thoughts of the group during the action.

Senator John McCain offered the students a meeting in order to discuss the Dream Act, however, the students recognize that this is insufficient and that immediate action is needed to pass the DREAM Act!

Tucson, Arizona. May 17th, on the anniversary of landmark civil rights case Brown v. Board of Education, Arizona law enforcement arrested four undocumented leaders of the immigrant student movement in addition to Arizona native Raul Alcaraz. Lizbeth Mateo of Los Angeles, California; Tania Unzueta of Chicago, Illinois; Mohammad Abdollahi of Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Yahaira Carrillo of Kansas City, Missouri; were detained Tucson, Arizona, after staging a sit-in at Senator John McCain’s office. With this challenge to local and federal law, these youth hope to highlight the urgency of legislative action in Congress, and catalyze mass grassroots mobilization to pass the DREAM Act before June 15th.

These four leaders are risking deportation from the United States in the hope that this action will make a significant contribution to the fight for immigrant rights. In response to the onslaught of enforcement-based immigration law, they staged a sit-in at Senator McCain’s office, and urged congressional leadership to champion the DREAM Act and the values it represents: hard work, education, and fairness.

Lizbeth, 25, an organizer with DREAM Team Los Angeles, states, "There are already ten other states across the country considering immigration legislation similar to Arizona’s: legislation that is anti-family, anti-democratic, and anti-freedom. Police states and enforcement are quickly becoming the standard, and we are running out of time. We are going to pass the DREAM Act because it is based on freedom and equality."

Mohammad, 24, co-founder of DreamActivist.Org, a resource web portal for undocumented students, said in a statement: "Never in our history has it been American to deny people their civil rights. We have decided to peacefully resist to encourage our leaders to pass the DREAM Act and create a new standard for immigration reform based on education, hard work, equality, and fairness."
At least 65,000 undocumented immigrant youth graduate from high schools every year, and many of them struggle to attend institutes of higher education and the military. The DREAM Act will grant youth who traveled to the United States before the age of 16 a path to citizenship contingent on continuous presence in the country, good behavior, and the attainment of at least a two-year university degree or a two-year commitment to the armed forces.

"During the civil rights movement, African-American students were arrested for sitting down at lunch counters. We’ve been detained for standing on a sidewalk. We can't wait any longer for the DREAM Act to pass," said Tania, 26, co-founder of the Immigrant Youth Justice League, and immigrant rights organizer in Chicago.

All four are leaders in their own communities and have dedicated years to work for immigrant rights, legalization for undocumented immigrants, and the DREAM Act. “Dr. King spoke of a dream of equality overcoming fear. Well, the fierce urgency of our dreams has overcome any kind of fear we may have had before. We can’t wait,” concluded Yahaira, 25, a founder of the Kansas Missouri Dream Alliance.

National Press Conference
Tuesday May 18th
9 AM Pacific, 11 PM Central, Noon EST

In front of Senator John McCain’s office:
407 West Congress Street
Tucson, AZ 85701

Scott Watch: Unconstitutional Living Conditions

Unconstitutional Living Condition ~ Unedited ~By Jamie Scott ~ Please Forward to Media Outlets

April 20, 2010

Jamie Scott # 19197
P.O. Box 88550
Pearl, MS 39288-8850

The living condition in quickbed area is not fit for any human to live in. I have been incarcerated for 15 years 6 months now and this is the worst I have ever experience. When it rain out side it rain inside. The zone flood like a river. The rain comes down on our heads and we have to try to get sheets and blankets to try to stop it from wetting our beds and personnel property. Because the floors are concrete and it have paint on it, it makes it very slippery when it rain and there have been numerous of inmates that have broke their arms and hurt there self do to this. Above our heads there are rows and rows of spiders as if we live in the jungle. There are inmates that have holds in there bodies left from spider bites, because once they are bitten it take forever to get to the clinic for any help. There are mold in the bathroom ceiling and around the walls and toilets. The toilets leak sewage from under them and they have the inmate men to come in and patch them up occasionally. The smell is awful. The showers are two circular poles with five shower heads on each pole. The floor in the shower is also concrete and slippery. There is nothing to hold on to when you exit the shower so there have been many inmates that have hurt there self in the process. Outside the building there is debirs where the unit is falling apart. Each day we are force to live in these conditions. The staph infection is so high and we are force to wave in toilet and sewage water when we have to go to the bathroom. I have witness to many inmates die at the hands of this second rate medical care. I do not want to be one of them. When this is brought to the health department or anyone attention. The MDOC tries to get the inmate to try to pamper it up so if someone comes in it want look as bad as the inmates said it did. I am fully aware that we are in prison, but no one should have to live in such harsh condition. I am paranoid of catching anything because of what I have been going throw with my medical condition. We are living in these harsh conditions, but if you go to the administration offices, they are nice and clean and smell nice because they make sure the inmates clean their offices each day. They tell us to clean the walls. Cleaning the walls will not help anything. Cleaning the walls will not stop the rain from pouring in. it will not stop the mold from growing inside the walls and around us. It will not stop the spiders from mating. They have 116 inmates on each wing, and we live not five feet from each other in order to pack us in. We have the blowers on the ceiling and if the inmates are acting crazy or the staff come in mad they use the blowers as a form of punishment. The taxes payers really are lead to believe we are been rehabilitated. That is a joke. All we do is sit in this infected unit and build up more hate. Rehabilitated starts within you. If you want to change you will change. One thing about MDOC, they know how to fix the paper work up to make it seen as if they are doing their job. You can get more drugs and anything else right here. I have witness a lot in my time here. Do I sound angry, I am not I am hurt and sick. Because they have allowed my kidney to progress to stage five which been the highest. They told me years ago I had protein in my urine, but I went years without any help. Now, it seen the eyes are on me because my family are on their case. Every inmate is not without family. Yes, you do have many inmates that family have giving up on, but my sister and I are not them. I do not want special attention; I want to treat, and to live how the state says on paper we are living. The same way when it is time for the big inspection we are promised certain food if we please clean up to pass this inspection. So I beg of anyone to please understand Mississippi Department of Correction is a joke. They will let you die or even kill yourself. We are told when visitors come into the prison do not talk to them. Well I have the right to talk to anyone and if the health department or anyone comes I will talk to him or her, because this is my life and I should or anyone else should be force to live like this. They use unlawful punishments to try to shut us up. I need help. I need a inmate to help me, but for some reason they will not allow me to move with my sister, so she can help me. There are mother and daughter, aunties, and nieces housed together and also there are a total of 12 inmates acting as orally for others inmates. I have all the names of the inmates acting as a orally if need to be giving. However, the subject of my sister is been danced around. A form of discrimination. My sister (Gladys Scott) and I were housed together for over ten years and not once have we ever caused any problem. We were spit up because in 2003 the Commissioner came with the order to separate all family members. Because its payback because my family is holding them accountable to do what they are paid to do. Also, do to the fact Mr. Daniels on it’s a New Day & Grassroots are keeping the supports inform that is been pointed out to me in a negative way. Now that I am sitting everyday because of my sickness I have time to use my typewriter. MDOC have gotten away with to much. In addition, some of the things that go on here I truly believe that Mr. Epps do not know.